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Tiger Woods trails six behind Gary Woodland after costume change turns around his fortunes

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 10/08/2018 James Corrigan
a man holding a golf club: Tiger Woods is within five shots of clubhouse leader Rickie Fowler at the USPGA Championship © Getty Images Tiger Woods is within five shots of clubhouse leader Rickie Fowler at the USPGA Championship

The sweaty shirt just had to go and so, too, did that erratic swing. Struggling on three-over through two holes in the first round of the 100th USPGA Championship, Tiger Woods disappeared into a portaloo and came out wearing a fresh top and looking a different corner.

Woods proceeded to play the next 15 holes in three-under to post a level-par 70 and while the perspiration was still evident it seemed to be as much to do with the mental and physical toil he put in to recover as the searing temperatures. The 42-year-old is six behind leader Gary Woodland.

“I always carry extra shirts because I sweat a lot, and I lose a bunch of weight during the summer… no matter what I eat, no matter what I drink,” Woods said. “Normally, I change before the round [after his warm-up]. But there wasn't a place to change

As they waited on the 12th tee, his caddie, Joe LaCava , turned to  playing partners Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy and quipped: “He’s changing his shirt – that one isn’t working.” Woods, who pushed his approach into the water on the 11th on his way to a double-bogey six, then found his first fairway of the day and hit a wedge to two feet. There were further birdies at the 18th, first and eighth and just the one bogey.

a man wearing a hat: Rory McIlroy speaks to Tiger Woods during round one © Getty Images Rory McIlroy speaks to Tiger Woods during round one

“That’s kept me in the tournament,” Woods said. “I could have easily gone the other way, being three-over through two, but I hung in there and turned it around.”

After that start, if someone had told McIlroy he would only match Woods, he would have feared a high number. As it was, his morning’s work was no more than satisfactory and, to be honest, was a little bit dull, with two birdies and two bogeys and nine straight pars coming in.

“It wasn't that easy out there and the scores sort of reflect that,” MciIroy said. “I wish I could have taken advantage of the two par-fives. My shot of the day? I don't think I had one. They were all just okay.”

At least the crowds were appreciative, following this marquee group in huge quantities. McIlroy knows it will resemble a circus when they resume at lunchtime today. “It was pretty cool to be out there at 8:30am and have an atmosphere like that,” McIlroy said. “Justin [the defending champion, who shot a 69]  and I were saying it's going to get crazy tomorrow afternoon.” They might all require a costume change.

Watch: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson planning epic showdown (Provided by USA TODAY)

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Rickie Fowler was another who altered his outfit but this was before the 65 which left him within one of the big-hitting Woodland and for a very special and emotional rescue.

On the eve of the season’s final major, word came through from Melbourne that Jarrod Lyle has passed away, aged 36, after a long bout of cancer. Fowler spoke to the former PGA Tour pro on the phone Friday and on hearing the desperate news of this father of two young daughters switched from blue to yellow to celebrate the life of Lyle, whose trademark was a yellow bucket hat.

“It’s definitely been tough, but Jarrod wouldn't want us out here feeling sorry for him,” said Fowler, who like so many of his colleagues has contributed money to the Lyle family. “He’d probably come out here and kick us in the butt and tell us to go have some fun.”

Ian Poulter played alongside Fowler and shot a 67.  Poulter is not only competing for the Wanamaker Trophy but the Ryder Cup. He is in 10th in the standings with only the top eight qualifying automatically.

a man holding a baseball bat: Leader Rickie Fowler wore yellow in honour of Jarrod Lyle © David Cannon Leader Rickie Fowler wore yellow in honour of Jarrod Lyle

There are fewer than six points separating Poulter and Paul Casey –in eighth – with Dane Thorbjorn Olesen in between. Poulter, 42, only has two counting events left before the end of the race on Sept 2 and although he would be practically certain of a wildcard, he cannot get Le Golf National out of his mind. After missing 2016, Mr Ryder Cup wants to be back in his favourite arena by right and he could be assisted by Casey, who opened with a lamentable 75. Olesen fired a 70.

"I'm close, but I need a little push," Poulter said. "I could have got it done last weekend {at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, where he finished 10th]. I'm a little frustrated I didn't, but I think I can squeeze in if I play well here. I'm trying not to think about it, but I know it's there.”

Poulter did not arrive here until Wednesday, choosing to spend a few nights in his own bed in Orlando. He played only nine holes of practice but that is nine holes more than his friend and countryman Justin Rose. The world No 3 has been suffering with a back complaint that threatened to cause him to withdraw for a second week running, but he shrugged off the inaction for his own 67.

a man riding a wave on a surfboard in the water: Tiger Woods plays a shot from a bunker on the fourth hole during the first round of the 2018 PGA Championship © Stuart Franklin/Getty Tiger Woods plays a shot from a bunker on the fourth hole during the first round of the 2018 PGA Championship

“The back's good and I was not thinking about it,” he said. “I was able to hit every shot as I wanted to today. It's interesting, I walked nine holes both days, so I haven't hit a bad shot on the course. Often you can be biased how you play in practice. Today I had a bit of a blank canvas to play with, and I felt comfortable on the course.”

With Zach Johnson and South African Brandon Stone on four-under, Poulter and Rose are in a large group on three-under, also featuring world No 1 Dustin Johnson, Jason Day. Ross Fisher is on two-under with another Englishman in Tommy Fleetwood one further back.

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